The piece comments on Melfi’s writing: the subjects she frequently employs in her work, the characters she creates, and her genre of choice – comedy—and its numerous intriguing complexities.
Liz Allemang stresses that, while Melfi often returns to particular themes and characters, she “has a broad range” as a writer.
“Throughout her decades as a writer, she has explored issues of identity, relationships and “internalized psychological conflicts” in her works of prose, theatre and fiction.”
When it comes to characters in particular, Allemang explains that “there’s a particular type” which Melfi often explores in her work.
“I enjoy focusing on characters who haven’t figured out what life is all about, but they’re quite OK with it. They accept the fact that life can be ugly and beautiful at one and the same time,” says Melfi. “This generates a bittersweet quality to their view of life.” One that Melfi believes she shares.”
Similarly, Melfi returns to specific subjects in her work. One in particular: marriage.
“Melfi has dedicated many of her literary explorations to the subjects of marriage and, more broadly, relationships…. ‘Writing about marriage is fun,’ she says, because ‘you get to play all the parts, and decide on the outcome. In a comedy no one gets hurt. Not all that much anyway. Everyone wins. That’s what’s so nice about the form. Even grownups, on occasion, need to hear the words, ‘and they lived happily ever after’.”
However, Melfi’s work is far from light, simple and straightforward.
“Melfi’s work delves into juicy complication, self-reflection and situations in which readers can, she hopes, see themselves in the characters, make comparisons with them or, perhaps, forget themselves amid the voyeurism of the moment.”
Allemang, likewise, stresses the complexity of Melfi as author, who, in her work, sets up a strong dichotomy between humour and depth:
“While Melfi’s writing exhibits a mastery of understanding, sympathizing with and challenging her characters, her proclivity for exploring subjects that are close to home has also allowed her to develop an ability to speak to complex, human subjects and relationships. Her writing is humourous and truthful.”
Melfi’s play, My Italian Wife, will be staged in a production by The Sons of Italy, which will be running from November 26-29, 2015 at the Casa D’Italia in Montreal.